Professions of a Silicon Valley Double-E
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
  Volunteering with the IEEE, What you need to know

A friend of mine recently asked for volunteers for the SCV GOLD group. Rather than attempt to carry on individual conversations with each one for the entire information, I am putting the intial information dump on what they need to know here, then followup with each one to
see what volunteering role best fits them.

About IEEE-GOLD the "Graduates of the Last Decade" is a group of all IEEE members in the first decade of their Career (typically measured from the date of granting of the BSEE or equivalent). The overlap with PACE is primarily in the "Career" arena, and a little with the other concerns common to all members. I.e how to take the best advantage of benefit packages provided by employers, should I continue my education part time (and how)?, should I go into management? how can I afford to buy a house in the Bay area.

IEEE started GOLD groups on the theory that new Engineering Grads were not finding enough value in existing IEEE local activities to actually go, and that a GOLD focused group could do a better job of hosting such activities. The benefit to the IEEE is that more attendees to these meetings will discover other IEEE activities they want to attend, and they will, remain members, and go on to volunteer with the other groups as they graduate from GOLD.

How the IEEE works

The IEEE is a volunteer organization. Everything that happens at the IEEE starts as a volunteer activity. Some of the activities (particularly publishing and conferences) have over the years generated enough surpluses to allow hiring of full-time support staff. Some of that surplus is regularly made available to support, but not fully fund, other activities, for instance, creation of new local groups. Even when supported by full-time staff, the direction comes from IEEE volunteers.

Why to be a volunteer

The reasons vary from person to person. I want to keep up to date technically, I want to learn a new skill, I want to learn how to lead, I want to meet other people in my field so that I have a network to help me next time I need to look for work, find consulting, find customers, find co-workers, find employee’s or consultants. I want to give something back (we do after all “stand on shoulders of giants”). I want friends with whom I can discuss technological topics. I want to make Engineering my Profession AND my Career.

Whatever your initial motivation, most who try it discover additional value, and keep at it.

What to do as volunteer?

  1. Every IEEE group needs a couple of “make it happen” people. These people are committed to the growth of the entity, and make sure that the planning meetings and actual events happen. Somehow. Without this kind of person, the group can function for a while, but will eventually die out. If you are not yet one of these, but want to become one, start in the next group.
  2. Every IEEE group needs several “I can do that” people. These people take on specific short term tasks as needed. Often times the Organizational Officers come from this group. They don’t take on All tasks, but the ones they are capable of, and can do without great impact to themselves. The main requirement is to SHOW UP at meetings, be on the e-mail list, to be around when some one asks “who can take care of …” A core group of 4 “can do” and 1 “make it happen” person can keep a group going for many years, but it’s more fun with more volunteers.
  3. Volunteers who are seeking to expand their skills will often have a particular kind of task in mind. We’ll call them the “I’d like to do this” people. One wanting to learn Web Authoring might want to take on the job of Webmaster. One wanting to keep up with the industry, and meet the movers and shakers (the “make it happen” people) might want to take on the job of finding speakers for future events. Those folks often need a specific list of opportunities.
  4. The final kind of Volunteer, is the one who wants to do something, but not too much, to be sure their involvement is limited because of other commitments, perhaps to job or family. The “I can only do this” people also want to review the opportunity list.

Volunteer Opportunities list: Elected (typically 1 year terms, a full rotation thru the list is a typical goal)

Appointed (not exhaustive):

In Summary, you can do as little or as much as you want. To get started, tell me what you initially hope to get as a volunteer, which category your are in now, and, if you know, what sounds like something you'd like to do.

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Hi Jonathan,

I enjoyed this post on your increasing involvement in the IEEE. I've also been reflecting on my involvement with our professional organization, and I wrote about it in my blog.

I haven't reached such a positive conclusion as you, but I may yet be inspired by you to become more involved. I really wish I could find a proper home for a "Digital IC designer" in the IEEE.
I'm perplexed as to why there isn't a better fit for us.

Keep up the great work blogging and volunteering.

thanks for the post.. and the link.

I think the IEEE has room for all EE's the ones that are not well represented , may simply be a case of no-one stepping forward to start it.

I'll invite you, or anyone, wanting to create a place for the digital designer to come and start the effort, I'll be glad to share my experience to ease the trip.

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Ruminations about the Electrical Engineering profession as practiced in Silicon Valley by an IEEE Senior Member. Disclaimer: All Posts here are official IEEE business in that they are messages about IEEE activities from an IEEE volunteer. These messages do not constitute official records of R6-PACE activities, nor official IEEE or IEEE-USA policy statements. Website:

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Location: San Jose, California, United States

When he is not working on IEEE stuff, Jonathan does Mixed Signal Design Verification at Qualcomm. Senior Member IEEE. Founder IEEE-SCV-SSC (the first Solid State Circuits chapter). Past Section Chair, Santa Clara Valley Section - the Largest Section. Co-founder IEEE-SCV-CAS. IEEE-SSCS Membership chair 2001-2003. IEEE SSCS chapters Committee member. IEEE-SCV-PACE committee member 2001- IEEE-SCV-PACE Chair 2006-2007. IEEE R6 PACE coordinator.


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